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5 Questions to Ask Before You Try a WordPress Plugin

How to Decide if You Should Install a WordPress Plugin on Your Blog

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WordPress plugins can add a lot of amazing features and functions to your self-hosted WordPress blog, and since most are available for free, it’s easy to install them on your blog with a simple click of the mouse. However, not all WordPress plugins are equal, and some can actually damage your blog.

Even premium WordPress plugins that come with a price tag attached to them could be poorly coded or cause your blog not to work properly. By taking a few simple steps researching a WordPress plugin before you install it, you’ll save yourself from a lot of potential problems later.

Following are five questions you should ask yourself before you try a WordPress plugin to ensure it’s right for your blog.

1. When was the WordPress plugin last updated?

This question is extremely important because if a plugin isn’t compatible with the latest version of WordPress, it can cause a lot of problems for your blog. Furthermore, a plugin that isn’t updated frequently is one that the developer probably doesn’t care much about. You shouldn’t trust your blog to someone who doesn’t care much about the tools they offer to you.

2. Who developed the plugin?

Popular WordPress plugin developers have strong online reputations, but what happens if you find a plugin that you want to use that was created by an unknown developer? It’s important that you do some research and find the developer’s website, social media profiles, blog, and so on to get an idea of their expertise. A simple Google search typically delivers the information you need to understand the developer’s knowledge and experience. If he or she appears to be capable of creating a high quality WordPress plugin, then give it a try.

3. Is there help available for the plugin?

If you have questions or problems with the plugin after you’ve installed it, you need to know that help is available. Many WordPress developers respond to emails or create online forums to help users. If a lot of people have already installed the plugin, you can assume that a Google search will lead you to answers to questions that other bloggers like you have already asked online.

4. Are you a victim of shiny new toy syndrome or does your blog need the plugin?

You shouldn’t install WordPress plugins that you don’t really need. That’s because plugins are “extras” that can cause problems if they’re incompatible with your blog’s theme or other plugins that are already installed. The more extras you add to your blog, the higher the chances for site problems and WordPress security breaches. Take some time to really evaluate whether or not you need to plugin you’re thinking of installing or if you’re just installing it because it sounds cool or everyone else is trying it.

5. Have you read any reviews of the plugin?

Many people review WordPress plugins on websites, blogs, forums, and more. You can also find star ratings for plugins in the WordPress Plugin Directory. Conduct a Google search and read some reviews. Be careful of paid reviews or reviews that were written by the developer or friends of the developer that are biased. Your goal should be to find a variety of reviews to fully understand all of the pros and cons of the plugin. That’s the only way you can make an educated decision whether or not to install the plugin on your WordPress blog. You can read some WordPress plugin reviews right here on About.com Blogging.

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